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Archived - Ottawa hands the wheel to driverless technology

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May 24, 2019
Feature Stories

At the Ottawa L5 test facility, cars and shuttles are cruising on a road network that look just like real city streets, but no one’s at the wheel. That’s because "L5" stands for level 5, the highest level of vehicle intelligence and automation; these driverless vehicles are equipped with technology that lets them talk to the private test track’s advanced communications networks, so that they can safely navigate the roads.


This is the first fully integrated Connected and Autonomous test environment of its kind in North America, offering 1,866 acres of land – enough space to fit over 4,000 hockey rinks! With 16 kilometres of routes, it’s an ideal space for Ottawa’s high-tech players to research and develop autonomous vehicle (AV) technology that will revolutionize how we get around our cities in the future.

Invest Ottawa, the Automated Vehicle Innovation Network, the City of Ottawa and partners have transformed the site into a functioning private test track that is realistic and safe:

  • The track is just like real city streets, complete with traffic signals, signage, one-way streets, pedestrian crossings and bike lanes.
  • The whole facility is equipped with an impressive communications network, including 5G, 4G LTE, GPS, dedicated short-range communications, and Wi-Fi, allowing AVs to communicate with the road network and with each other.
  • Ottawa’s seasonal extremes are a unique advantage, because AVs need to work in all weather conditions, all year round; if the vehicles work in a harsh Ottawa winter, they will work anywhere!

The facility will test new technologies that will help improve residents’ lives. As of today, autonomous shuttle buses, advanced traffic technologies and new lighting standards are being tested at this site before being rolled out on public streets.

Ottawa has become Canada’s AV capital: more than 90 companies, post-secondary institutions, and other organizations are working on this exciting new technology in the city right now, building off each other’s innovations and solutions. There is also a public test track located in the Kanata Research Park, the largest technology park in Canada. The L5 test facility will help local tech companies and entrepreneurs grow, take risks and play an important role in developing the global AV market of the future.

Blackberry QNX Connected autonomous vehicle
Blackberry QNX Connected autonomous vehicle


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